History is What States Make of It

June 24, 2022
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Political scientist Alexander Wendt famously (well, in political science circles anyway) observed of the international system that “anarchy is what states make of it.” In this week’s episode of Horns of a Dilemma, we explore the degree to which this observation is true not only of the international system, but also of the mental constructs that states, leaders, and citizens use to think about the concept of an international system and their place in it. Andrew Ehrhardt, an Ernest May post-doctoral fellow in history and policy at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, is the author of Everyman His Own Philosopher of History: Notions of Historical Process in the Study and Practice of Foreign Policy, which appears in Vol 5/Iss 3 of the Texas National Security Review. Ehrhardt joins TNSR Executive Editor Doyle Hodges to discuss the article and how this view of history affects questions of security in international and domestic politics today.

Image:Wally Gobetz via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0